A hundred years ago, a telegram from the heart of Asia changes the history of mountaineering and exploration. To send from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, is Political officer Charles Bell was the representative of British India in the court of Dalai Lama. At the other end of the line in New Delhi, the message is received and registered. Then a new telegram, signed by Viceroy Frederick Thesiger, departs for the Viscount of Chelmsford, London. “Bell said that he had portrayed the Dalai Lama’s need to cross the project and the territory of Tibet, and received the approval of his government“.
Everest from the north, photo by Stefano Ardito
Sir Charles Bell and the Dalai Lama at the center of the Maharaja of Sikkim
Lhasa, Potala Palace
George Mallory with his wife Ruth
When the permit is finally issued, The idea of Everest’s effort goes back many years.. It was certainly thought of by Douglas Freshfield, who completed the dissemination of Kanchenjunga, the Earth’s third summit, in 1899 with a team including Bayla-based photographer Vittorio Sela. Before that trip, in 1885, Clinton Dent, a doctor and climber, wrote in Drew’s first ascent, Above the snow line “I do not think it is wise to try asceticism, but I believe that this achievement is humanly possible. And I am sure that, already today, this affirmation will be strongly demonstrated“.
In the years between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the great peaks of the Himalayas begin to woo, not just the British. In 1895 Albert Friedrich Mumeri faces Nanga Parbat, and disappears towards Diemier. Then, in 1902 and 1905, Alister Crowley made two attempts at K2 and Kanchenjunga. In 1909 the Duke of Abruzzi, along with his Guides of Courtaire, found a way to climb another mountain on Earth. Shortly before, in 1907, two other professionals, born at the foot of the Italian side of Mont Blanc’s brothers, Henry and Alexis Brochel, were in a 7120-meter trident with Tom Longstaff, who would long live at the highest peak of man. Was touched by.
The real father of the first Everest expeditions, however, is Francis Younghusband. In 1887, as lieutenant of the King’s Dragoon Guards, he made an incredible journey through the Gobi Desert and the 5376 meters of the Muztagh Pass, and was the first European to see the K2 up close. Twenty-two years later, in 1919, he became president of the Royal Geographical Society, and states that he “It determined that the Everest adventure is the central element of my presidency. Naturally he hopes that the summit will be conquered by a British expedition, and he will be the first to climb it “Is an Englishman, or at least a Scotsman“. Between the years of Freshfield and Mamrei and the Youngghousband settlement, two conflicts changed the world. The first, of course, the Great War, which has devastated Europe, has led to nearly ten million deaths. A number that is considerable Increases if we consider the victims of the Russian Revolution, which begins with the world conflict, and which continues with a long and bloody civil war.
However, to open Everest to the British, there is a small war, and some of which is heard in Italy. In 1904, the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, organized a “military campaign” in which there was a small invasion of Tibet. The column of soldiers who entered the Dalai Lama’s country includes Francis Yunugusband, who became a colonel, and is in charge of the political part of the enterprise. British and Indian soldiers, repeating rifles and machine guns, shed tears in addition to the Tibetan militia, which tried to dislodge them with cavalry charges, swords and old weapons. More than five thousand Tibetans are killed in skirmishes, and especially in the Battle of Chumik Shenko. To stop the massacre Thuben Gyatso, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama signs a treaty with British India and London. He acknowledges that Lhasa, his capital, is connected by a telegraph cable to Calcutta, and acknowledges the presence of one Political officer British.
For this reason, in 1920, the ruler of Tibet allowed the first expedition to Everest. “I don’t know how things really went, but it is possible that this actual subordination to Britain helped persuade China to occupy Tibet half a century later.“Fosco Maraini, Asia’s climber and deep connoisseur, explained to me a few years ago.
The rest of the story is better known. In the spring of 1920, as president of the Royal Geographic Society, Younghusband sent Lieutenant Colonel Charles Howard-Bury to India, Sikkim and Tibet. In Yatung, the Tibetan city closest to the Sikkim border, meets the officer Political officer Charles Bell, who then reports the Dalai Lama’s request. In January 1921, after the fateful telegram, the RGS and the Alpine Club began organizing campaigns to raise funds, select participants, and select funds. On 18 May, under the monsoon rains, climbers, surveyors and burdens and long caravans of animals left Darjeeling for Sikkim, Tibet and Everest.
The expedition is, of course, above all exploratory adventure. Together with Lieutenant Colonel Howard-Bury, who directs it, a team of surveyors and scientists and only four climbers are released. One of them, Alexander Kailus, a climber of various untouched peaks of Sikkim, dies almost entirely from illness. Another, Harold Raeburn, is unwell and is making limited contributions. The other two climbers, Guy Bullock and George Leigh Malory, make an extraordinary discovery in the valleys of Kharata and Rongbuk, 6006 meters from Nepal to Lho La, then find a possible way to climb the best and make it. Lead to the top. 7000 meters of the northern region. From there, as of next year, the other six campaigns of 1920 and 1930 will pass.
Along with the British mountaineers, the 1921 expedition already has Sherpas. These are ethnic Tibetan climbers, originally from the Nepalese valleys of Khambu and known for their resistance, who have been working in the tea gardens of Darjeeling for some decades. Advising Howard-Bury on why they should be chosen “Less undisciplined than Tibetans“, And this Political officer Charles Bell at 1920 meeting in Yatung.
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